Cultivating Meaningful Learning within a Caring Community: Teaching for Possibility: Creativity, Connection, and Building Better Worlds

Session 3 – November 4, 2023

Presenters: Jen Lehe & Cat Lynch

The world is dizzyingly complex and full of promise. Thinking like an artist and thinking with art — regardless of what subject matter or grade level we teach — can support well-being, perspective-taking, imagination, and agency in the face of the challenges impacting our youth, schools, communities, and world.

This highly-participatory session will use classroom-ready tools and conversation models to practice and reflect on the dispositions that enable us, teachers and students, to practice critical thinking, imagination, and creative agency to impact our communities – from the classroom to the world.

In this session you will practice your own creativity and reflect on it, deeply explore an in-depth classroom example that surfaces important civic dynamics relevant to any school, use thinking routines to explore perspectives and complexity, and plan applications to your own practice. These experiences draw on the Cultivating Creative & Civic Capacities (C4) framework co-created by the Columbus Museum of Art, Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, and public school teachers. By taking part in this session, you will become part of this community of educators building our collective understanding of how to empower young people to be imaginative, curious, critical agents in their lives.

Learning targets:

  • Identify key elements and potential challenges for civic engagement
  • Build skills sparking investigation, imagination, and action
  • Develop confidence navigating challenges and harnessing the potential of our interconnectedness
  • Catalyze your own imaginative agency and critical thinking

Resources for November 4th Session:

About the Session Presenters:

Jen Lehe
Beth Crane & Richard McKee Associate Director of Learning Innovation; Columbus Museum of Art 

Jennifer is the Manager of Strategic Partnerships at the Columbus Museum of Art. There she oversees learning programs for audiences of all ages, especially PreK-20 students and teacher professional development. Jen directed a three-year research-practice collaborative between the Museum and classroom teachers, the Making Creativity Visible initiative. Making Creativity Visible, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, investigated ways to model, foster, and authentically assess creativity in K-12 settings.
With support from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, Jen has tripled the size of the Museum’s signature teacher professional development program, the Teaching for Creativity Institute, and launched the Leaders in Creativity fellowship to build teachers’ capacity to advocate beyond their classrooms. In 2018, Jen co-launched two ambitious new initiatives at the Museum: Wonder School, a laboratory preschool to develop and disseminate quality practices for early childhood educators, and the IMLS-funded Center for Art and Social Engagement – a gallery space, programming stream, and strategic framework for using art as a catalyst for civil discourse around issues of relevance to contemporary life. This year, Jen is collaborating with central Ohio teachers and researchers from Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to develop a framework for Cultivating Creative and Civic Capacities.
Jen holds a Masters in Arts in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from New York University. When she’s not at the Museum, she’s gardening with her pit bull, Chompsky.

Cat Lynch
Lead Teaching Artist and Young Child Coordinator; Columbus Museum of Art 

Cat is Lead Teaching Artist & Coordinator for Young Child Programming at the Columbus Museum of Art. One of her roles at CMA is as classroom teacher at Wonder School, an arts-rich laboratory preschool launched in 2018 in collaboration with Columbus State Community College, Columbus Museum of Art, and The Childhood League Center. Wonder School fosters purposeful play, critical inquiry, and a collaborative community approach to education—for children, for their educators, for a more creative and compassionate society. Her other roles at the museum include supporting K-12 initiatives, developing and leading professional development for educators and applying a studio lens to various programs. As an arts educator, Cat has worked for over a decade with a variety of ages from infants and toddlers to adults in a variety of contexts- from traditional classrooms to adaptive community studios for individuals with disabilities. Though interested in just about everything, her areas of special focus include early childhood education, intergenerational learning, and the intersection of studio art-making, play, and justice. Cat is also an artist whose work focuses primarily on collage, story-telling, humor, interaction and environment.
Cat holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ball State University and an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Development and Education from Columbus State Community College. She is also a parent to two young children and ends most of her days very messy and full of wonder.